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Forgeries of Bergedorf – click on images for larger pictures
 Bergedorf is a very old town and was probably founded by Dutch merchants about 1275. It was known as a refuge for pirates. Originally it belonged jointly to the Free State of Hamburg and the Free State of the City of Lubeck.

The stamps were produced by lithography by Herr Christian Fuchs of Hamburg.
They gradually increase in size according to the facial values, the lowest denomination measuring 15
1/4x151/4mm. and the highest one 211/2x21 mm.

On the same stone an essay for a 4sch stamp is shown. This essay was prepared about 1866 when the authorities proposed to change the design of the 4sch as it was believed this denomination had been forged in Hamburg.

The stamps of Bergedorf are always regarded with suspicion because most of the stamps of this little country which are on the market or available at dealers are reprints or forgeries.

About 300,000 mint Bergedorf stamps were bought by J. B. MOENS of Brussels as remainders from the Bergedorf Post Office in 1867, so that genuine mint stamps can still  be obtained from reliable dealers.
Moens also produced huge quantities of “reprints” which are now the most prevalent stamps on auctions.
The collector needs to distinguish between the originals and the reprints which were made by Moens.
It is more difficult, however, to decide whether a cancellation on an original stamp is genuine or forged, especially since it was rather easy to imitate the bar cancellation which was almost exclusively used on these stamps.
Therefore, a used Bergedorf stamp off cover, on piece, or on cover should only be purchased when it is accompanied by the certificate of an expert attesting to the genuine character of cancellation and stamp.

The letters “L H P A” in the corners of the centerpiece stand for LUBECK-HAMBURG-POST-AMT.

Issues of 1861 – 1867

1/2 Schilling
This value was printed in black on blue paper and it is the only one in which any color variation is noticeable. The paper chosen was of a pale blue tint but during the process of printing this paper ran out of stock and the additional supply obtained was of a much deeper tint. In fact a range of blues exist and it can be very difficult to distinguish the valuable Mi 1b from the 1a. The design is 151/4 mm square.
The total number printed was 200,000 (a thousand sheets) and of these about 161,000 were sold during the time they were current. The stamps became obsolete on January 1st, 1868, and a few months later the remainders were purchased by Moens.

1a (light blue), 1B (dark blue)

Characteristics of the Genuine stamp
The originals have dots in the rings which are thought to be “secret marks” but according to records of the period were actually guide dots. They are however valuable in distinguishing certain reprints.

Note: not all of these will be in every issue as each stamp of the plate has its own features.
1. Dot in circle
2. DOR very close together
3. Clearly defined circles with intersecting arcs. There should be 55 circles in all the originals.
4. Center of shield has long & short vertical lines
5. R & K very close together. Note the large right leg of the “R”
6. This one often touches the divider
7. Another, sometimes less visible dot in circle
8. A pronounced large dash between the wing and thigh

1 Schilling
The design measures exactly 16 mm. square. This value was printed in black on white paper in sheets of 200. A block of ten transfers was taken from the original die and arranged in two vertical rows of five. As the corner numerals in the original drawing were considered too thick and clumsy they were removed before making the transfers. The workman then had to draw in the whole of the forty numerals by hand so that small differences may be found.
The workman inverted all the stamps in the lower pane so that each sheet provides ten tete beche pairs.
90,000 were printed. Of these 64,000 were sold during the period of their currency, leaving a balance of 26,000 in the remainders sold to M. Moens.

Characteristics of the Genuine

1. Dots between the lines
2. Dot in circle
3. Lines do not touch the tower
4. Dot/dash in circle
5. Well defined crossbar in “H”
6. Well defined crossbar in “A”
7. Dot in circle, may be difficult to see
8. No lines in the shield
9. Dots in “L”
10. “PO” very close together11. “Secret Marks” – dots

1 1/2 Schillings
It measures 173/4 mm. square. In the original design the value is inscribed “SchillingE” and though it seems certain that a stone was prepared from this and a number of sheets printed these stamps were never issued and can only be considered as essays. The spelling was objected to and the lithographer
had to make a new stone.
The sheets consisted of 200 stamps in two panes of 100, placed one above the other.
There are eight tete-beche pairs in each sheet.
100,000 were printed and as only 32,000 were sold wh1le the Issue was in use the remainders handed over to M. Moens consisted of no less than 68,000.

Characteristics of the Genuine

1. Well defined lines and eye
. The eye is further down on the head
2. Dot in circle under “E”
3. Well defined top of  tower
4. Dot or dash in circle
5 Dot in circle
6. Spike on the “1”
7. Dot or dash sometimes difficult to see
8. “Secret Mark”
9. No lines in the shield

3 Schillings
The design measures 191/4 X 193/4 mm. This value was printed in sheets of 160 in sixteen rows of ten.
Altogether 80,000 of these stamps were printed of which about 37,000 were sold during the period of their currency and the balance of 43,000 was included in the parcel of remainders purchased by M. Moens.

Characteristics of the Genuine

1. Pronounced dash under top line
2. Lower leg of “E” longer and thicker than others
3. Dot in circle
4. Vertical stroke in “E”
5. Damaged M
6. Bottom of “P” attached  to lower frame
7. 2 dots outside frame
8. Middle stroke of “E” generally detached
9. Lines in shield
Tower has many fine horizontal lines

4 Schillings
The design measures 211/2 by 21 mm.
These stamps were printed in black on brown paper in sheets of eighty arranged in ten rows of eight
Altogether 80,000 of the 4sch stamps were printed, 30,000 being sold while the issue was current and the balance of 50,000 going to M. Moens

Characteristics of the Genuine

1. Small white eye on heavily shaded head
2. Dots and dashes in shield
3. Dot in “E”
4. Dot below frame
5. Dot in circle , may be difficult to see
6. Dots at the top and bottom of “B”

Proofs & Essays

Above, the original trial essays. Note that the 1/2 and 3sch are the same as the “official reprints” below.

Early trial essays

Color essays – these came in several colors for each denomination

The original essays were reprinted in 1868


These are apparently very rare original essays submitted in a competition & signed by the artist (signatures don’t match). They were apparently in the Burrus collection
They are likely an invention of the Irish Shanahan Stamps scandal and ponzi scheme of the 1950’s orchestrated by “Dr.” Paul Singer below

What basically differentiates forgeries from the “reprints” are the rings.
The originals have 55 rings and they are evenly distributed and overlapped.
The forgeries generally have less rings and usually they are uneven.

1/2 Schilling

Genuine for comparison

Left, a very crude forgery, note the numerals, the rings do not overlap, the head of the alder is white, the Denomination ends in “E”.
Right, a decent forgery, the dots in the rings are missing,  the fractions are very different, the letters are too thin, note the difference in the end “N & G”

Left, the rings are uneven and no dots, the top fractions are offset, the alder’s head is crude.
Right, aside from many issues with the rings, background and letters, the color is wrong.

Left, decent forgery, letters too thin, alders head wrong, background not wavy.
Right, decent forgery, the “R” in the top looks like a B, letters are too thin, background not wavy.

Original Proof

Left, excellent Sperati forgery sold on prestigious auction, minor differences in the thickness and shape of letters.
Right, crude forgery, fractions awkward, rings uneven and no dots, letters do not match, shield is too small.

This forgery comes from an illustration by Plácido Ramón de Torres. He apparently sold them to other forgers and made forgeries himself. This is very crude and should not fool anyone. One can find all the values.

1 Schilling

Genuine for comparison

Left, rings uneven, no dots, short serifs on numerals, background not wavy.
Right, letters do not match, note especially the “G’s”, rings uneven and no dots, feet on numerals, small shield

Left, large feet on numerals,  awkward letters
Right, crude letters, white spot in neck, no definition in background.

11/2 Schilling

Genuine for comparison

Left, letters do not match especially the top “G” and right “N”, the head is misshapen and it touches the wing, no dots in circles, no spike in lower left fraction, shield does not match
Right, very crude, “E” in “SCHILLINGE”, very uneven rings.

Very similar to above with forged cancel

Very crude tete beche, alder & towers blacked out, crude letters

3 Schilling

Genuine for comparison

These 2 appear to be from the same forger
Issues with the uneven rings,  no dots, awkward, thin letters, large griffin head, thick numerals

These two also are also from one  unknown forger with areas of concern noted

Another as the previous ones with fake cancel

Left, white head, issues with top letters, weak background
Right, a very good forgery possibly of a proof, no dot in ring, thin numerals, background not wavy

Left, dark head & body, no dot, awkward ornaments around “DREI”
Right, probably the same forger as the “proof” above with the same features.

4 Schilling

Genuine for comparison

Left, very crude with few redeeming features
Right, crude head, uneven rings cutting into the frame on the left, no wavy background

Left, fair forgery, head crude, rings uneven, no wavy background, left ornaments crude
Right, crude head, uneven rings, no dots, no wavy background

Left, crude griffin, large head touching wing, crude tower, faint background
Right, apparently a Peter Winter forgery but somewhat crude for his work

“Official” Reprints

Of the many imitations made only two were apparently made by the Bergedorf authorities themselves. In May 1867 M. Moens sent an order for twelve sheets of each of the 1/2sch and 3sch values in the colors of the rare essays.
As the group of transfers used in laying down the original stone was non-existent, fresh ones had to be made. The 1/2sch was transferred in blocks of eight and the 3sch in blocks of sixteen.
The sheets were of the same size as the originals.
11/2 Schilling black/ violet-rose (2400 printed)
3 Schilling black/ light rose (1920 printed)
Besides this, in the 1/2 Schilling value, there is a dot in the “N” of “EIN”; in the 3 Schilling value there are two dots in the center section of the ” S” of ” POSTMARKE. ”
These official reprints are quite rare.
As these were not postally used or authorized, the term official reprint is questionable.

All the original stamps were printed at the same time, that is, there was only one printing of each value. This was due to the fact that only one lithographic stone was purchased and as soon as the supply of one value was printed, the stone was cleaned and the impressions for another denomination were transferred. The so called “reprints” being nothing better than imitations/forgeries printed from new stones though the original “dies” were certainly used.
When Moens purchased the remainders, the “die stone” also became his property and he caused new stones to be made from these from which he made printings on four different occasions. Although. these are usually designated as reprints they are nothing better than unofficial imitations for as the original stones were not available nor was the printing sanctioned. It appears that Moens had disposed of the entire stock of remainders by 1872 and as the demand was still good he decided to make imitations. Further supplies were made in 1874, 1887, and 1888.
In my opinion these are not reprints but forgeries on a grand scale.

Above – Moens Proofs

Table of the issue dates

1872 Reprints

Reprint measure 15 by 151/4 mm.
The “H” of “SCHILLING” is always minus the cross bar and one (sometimes both) of the “A’s” in the inscription are also without the cross stroke.
Dent in the “N”
The horizontal bars of the letters “E A E H” are mutilated, and only very faint traces of the lines are usually visible.
The line between the griffin’s wing and thigh is as in the original.
The rings of the chains are smudged.
In the center shield there are only a few (two or three) faint lines visible.
As in the original there is a dot in the center ring of the chain at the top.

1 Schilling black/white.
Measures 16 X 16 mm as the original
There is a vertical dash in the center ring of the chain on the left.
There is a dot in the center ring of the chain at the top.
In the center ring of the chain on the right there is a vertical dash.
The numerals “1” in the four corners have feet.
The horizontal bars of the letters are badly mutilated.
Strong, thickened line to the right of the right tower
Almost no crossbar of the “H”

The inscription on the right reads: “SCHILLINGE” (Original: “SCHILLING”).
The horizontal bars of the letters are mostly defective.
Under the right side of the tower there is a triangle projection.
The rings of the chain are smudged.
A dot appears in the center rings of the top, bottom, left and right.
The fractional number “1” in the bottom left-hand corner has a single upstroke.
Smeared Posthorn
Fine parallel line in the “I” of “EIN”
The top left number “1” touches the frame
Wavy lines to the right of the castle unclear

The label measures 191/4 X 191/2 mm.
It can be at once distinguished by the absence of shading on the head of the eagle.
Above the “R” of “DREI,” between the two frame lines, there are two dots.
There is a dot above the second “E” of “BERGEDORF.”
The upper part of the shield is usually without shading.
The middle section of the “S” of ” POSTMARKE ” is thin.
In the center ring of the chain on the right there is a dot.
Right leg of the “M” in “POSTMARKE” is not mutilated
Shredded wavy lines
griffin head partially white
Blue vertical line at the top of the inscription “SHILLINGE”

Measures 21 by 203/4 mm.
In the vertical limb of the “E” in “POSTMARKE” there is a dash.
An oblique line, pointing upward emanates from the center ring of the chain on the left. In this ring there is also a dot.
A dot also may be found in the foot of the vertical limb of the “P” of “POSTMARKE.”
The letters “BE” and “RG” in “BERGEDORF” are very close together.
In the vertical limb of the “B” in “BERGEDORF” there are two dots; one at the top and one at the bottom.
The neck and head of the griffin is not shaded.
Line of dots in the second “I” of “SHILLINGE”

1874 Reprint

A vertical line (horn) on the head of the griffin
Numerous breaks in the wavy lines of the background.
The upper part of the coat of arms is without shading .
The left upper part of the “M” in “POSTMARKE” is notched.
The ring of the chain over the “P” in the lower left corner is broken.

1887 Reprints

Notch in the upper part of the right “N “of  “EIN”
Less clear members of the ring chain
Shredded wavy lines
Crude Letters
In the upper ring of the chain a dot is faintly visible.
The head of the griffin is without shading.
The horizontal bars of the letters in the border inscriptions are badly mutilated.
In the center part of the escutcheon only slight traces of shading are visible.

The size of the label is 161/2 X 161/4 mm
The numerals are all smeared and much too thick being 1 mm. wide instead of the 1/2 mm. of the originals.
Between the thigh and the claw there is often a dot.
In the center ring of the chain on the left there is a dash.
A dot appears in the center ring of the top chain .
There is a dash in the center ring of the chain at the right.
Strong, thickened line to the right of the tower
Griffin neck partly white
Crude, garbled letters

Denomination reads “SHILLINGE”
Fraction numeral “1” slightly smaller
Smeared Posthorn
Triangular pointing artifact downward bottom right part of the castle
Wavy lines unclear, some with significant breaks
Above the griffin’s beak usually a  large black spot
Crude letters

Measures 191/2 X 20 mm.
The lines of the background are hardly visible.
There is a small dot above the second ” E ” of ” BERGEDORF.”
A dot may be found over the ” R” in ”DREI.”
The “S” and the “M” in “POSTMARKE” are thinner than the other letters.
In the center ring of the chain on the right there is a dot.
The head of the griffin is not shaded.
Right leg of “M” in “POSTMARKE” is not Mutilated
Griffin’s head partially white

Measures 213/4 X 211/2 mm
The oblique line by the “I” of “VIER” is very pronounced
The letters of BERGEDORF are very irregular
Smeared letters
Broken wavy lines
Dots in the second “I” of “SHILLINGE”

1888 Reprints

The wavy linear pattern running under the design in the center piece is faded.
The rings of the chain are very smudgy.
The numerals ” 1 ” in the corners are without feet.
In the center ring of the chain at the top there is a dot.
A faint dot appears in the center ring of the chain on the right.

Stroke inside the “C”
Wavy lines barely visible
Right leg of “M” in “POSTMARE” not mutilated
Griffin head partially white

Moens ‘Korrekturabzug’
Se-tenant pair with the “E” in “SCHILLING” fixed

The Serrane Guide to Stamp Forgeries
H. Bynof-Smith: Forged Postage Stamps of Europe and Colonieis
Album Weeds – How to Detect Forged Stamps, R.B. Earée:  3rd Edition
650 falsche stempel und Prufzeichen BDph
German Philatelic Society Reference Manual of Forgeries
Fritz Billig: Großes Handbuch der Fälschungen, no. 7, Bergedorf
Distinguishing Characteristics of Classic Stamps: Old German States, Hermann Schloss
German.Empire.Stamps. Poole
Germany Specialized.1849.1945.Michel
Germany States Vol 1, Muller, 1933
The Forged Stamps of All Countries, Dorn, J.
Altdeutschland spezial-katalog und handbuch, Grobe 1963
Bergedorfer postgeschichte : von den anfangen bis 1868, Karl Knauer 1961
Postfreimarken der Deutschen Staaten, Die : Bergedorf , H. Krotzch
Handbuch Der Neudrucke , Paul Ohrt, 1938.
Handbok för filatelister Sigurd Tullberg.
Étude sur les Faux Timbres d’Europe, A. de Haene